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Author Topic: *I think we could have a great life together. But I can't go on this way.  (Read 180 times)
pedal9

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Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
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« on: January 16, 2020, 11:58:52 AM »

I was prompted to post about what brought me to this forum, so here goes. The short story is that I am coming to realize that my partner may have BPD and I want to find ways to help her consider that and seek treatment. The longer story follows.

I am in a committed relationship (2.5 years in) with a person I truly love. We do not live together--in part because I recognized early on that there were some issues that needed to be sorted out first before taking the next step. She also has kids (age 11 and 14) and I figure I need to be 100% confident before taking on a role as a step parent.

We've been in counseling for a year together and she began individual counseling last year as well. I, too, have a wonderful therapist (as well as a long history of diving deep into my own issues that, like many, stem mostly from family of origin stuff). As such, I'm no stranger to therapy and I believe in its ability to help anyone provided they are willing to do the work.

Our couples counselor has been helpful in honing our communication skills but does not to seem to grasp the big picture of the emotional rollercoaster that our relationship really is. My partner is high functioning and successful, as am I, so I think we present as much calmer than the situation actually is. We had another rough vacation over the holidays which prompted me to do some reading. It was then that I came across information describing "quiet BPD." One article explained my partner to a T (https://www.eggshelltherapy.com/quiet-bpd/).

I found some relief in discovering that maybe there was really something deeper going on but am also overwhelmed with what to do now. Over the past two weeks I've worked harder at setting clear boundaries around her behavior and my own behavior, with particular regard to my tendency to want to make things better and therefore not voicing my own frustration about our relationship. It plays out as me making it clear that I have a choice not to get on the rollercoaster with her anymore, by limiting our "talks" to 10-20 minutes (sometimes they'll go on for hours), reconnecting with friends who I have been spending less time with because I am so consumed and also sad about our relationship (i.e. embarrassed with how bad its gotten), talking about how her emotional rollercoaster and instability affects me, committing to not texting about emotional subjects, not taking blame for her emotions, not giving in when I want some time to myself and her intense fear of separation/abandonment kicks in, and continuing to reassure her that I love her and am not leaving.

That brings me to the real problem: I actually am considering leaving. Trying to see if something can be done or if we can talk about the possibility of BPD is my last resort. She has a very fixed mindset so will see this as an attack on her very character so I just don't know what to do. I'm close with the kids so I also have them to consider. If she and I could work through this, I think we could have a great life together. But I can't go on the way things are now.

Thanks for reading. I'm very happy to have found it, and hopeful there might be some guidance or resources for me here.



« Last Edit: January 16, 2020, 12:32:57 PM by Harri, Reason: changed title pursuant to guideline 1.5 » Logged
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pursuingJoy
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« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2020, 12:38:27 PM »

hi pedal9  Welcome new member (click to insert in post) thanks for sharing your story and joining us here at bpdfamily! welcome!  Virtual hug (click to insert in post)

How long since you discovered that BPD might be in the mix? I was so overwhelmed to learn that my MIL probably has BPD.   With affection (click to insert in post) My H is really enmeshed and bears some heavy traits or has it himself, too. For months, I was frustrated that our marriage counselor wouldn't mention BPD to my H.

We also presented as a far more stable couple to the counselor in our sessions. My H is averse to shame so is very prone to downplaying what happens. I've been frustrated at several points. It took about 6 months of weekly counseling to experience a session where the marriage counselor finally saw the real dynamic. 

Our MC and others here had to convince me that it's often counterproductive to mention the disorder, especially at the beginning. They're right, but the knowledge that a disorder was in the mix caused frustration and anxiety for me. It helped me to understand that BPD is largely relational - it's a form of relating that affects relationships. This means that what we learn in recovery (nons and pwBPD) is about healthy relating and is useful in all kinds of settings. It's helped my anxiety to connect with others here, read and learn new ways of communicating available on this site.

We feel strongly that each individual is capable of making the decision they need to make to stay or go, so we won't provide any guidance in that regard. I can say that I've personally experienced growth and improvement in my relationship with my H. Check out some Success Stories as shared by other posters.

Glad you're here.
pj

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Harri
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« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2020, 12:47:33 PM »

Hi and welcome!  

You are in the right place to work through your thoughts, doubts, etc, about your relationship.  We understand a lot of the struggles you talked about and it is not an easy decision to make.  Many of us are just starting the process of figuring things out and others are further along but we all work together to find solutions and think things trough.  We get it.

You mentioned that you have started working on boundaries around both her and your own behaviors.  Can you tell us more about that?

Excerpt
Trying to see if something can be done or if we can talk about the possibility of BPD is my last resort.
There are things that can be done at your end to improve things for you.   It takes time and commitment but we have had members here really turn things around for themselves and in their relationships.  Some people have had success sharing information about BPD with their loved one and others have not.  It is hard to say how yours will will respond however I would consider what you said here:  "She has a very fixed mindset so will see this as an attack on her very character" and perhaps not say anything.   Labeling someone else's behavior is very tricky and can backfire.

Please share more as you feel able.

Again, Welcome
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pedal9

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Relationship status: dating
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« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2020, 12:52:09 PM »

Thank you, PJ. I will look into the success stories now. It would be nice to hear some of those!

It's only been a couple of weeks that I've considered BPD to be a possible factor. I'd always thought of it in terms of angry outbursts but after learning of "quiet BPD" and it being characterized by "acting in" (can show up as self-harm but for my partner has thankfully not been that; for her it's impulsive spending/shopping, isolating, missing work due to an inability to function), I feel a bit of hope that there are tools out there for us.

I am trying to figure out how to broach the subject. I've asked her to talk to her doctor (who she has been with for 20 years and adores, but the MD is unfortunately is a patient of my own so the dynamic is complicated I think) and she has an appointment today. Her therapist that she has seen for a year just recently discovered that my partner "does not know how to identify outside a relationship" (my partner's words) so hopefully that will lead them down some fruitful avenues.
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pedal9

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« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2020, 01:19:24 PM »

Hi Harry.
Thanks for your message and pointing out my labeling. I should have clarified that she identifies as having a fixed mindset when it comes to relationships, so those are her words. She works in education and fixed vs growth mindset is a deep subject in her field so she's aware of what that means, and also how different her mindset is in relationships vs the rest of her life.

As for working on my own behaviors, I have come to realize that I tend to want to fix people or save people so the dynamic of relationship is not uncommon. I tend to set aside my own needs to steady the relationship. I literally don't know what my partner will be like from day to day or even hour to hour and her tendency to look for reasons why I might leave her leads to worrying about things that often aren't even there. I have never, ever made any statements about me considering leaving, as she already worries this is the case despite overwhelming reassurance to the contrary. I am looking hard at how to be real with her about my feelings and showing her the ways our relationship is not meeting my needs; and also working to remind myself that a more stable emotional life is not too much to ask for. My own therapist has been very clear in pointing out the ways I am not getting my needs met and I am taking it to heart.

As for setting boundaries, I mentioned some in my post, such as limiting any relationship "discussions" to 10-20 minutes (this per our therapist, plus books on attachment theory). This is important because much of our time together can be spent processing her anxiety/fear/worry but now that I am holding a firm boundary on it, we are actually getting more positive time together.  I am also pointing out blaming statements vs "I feel" statements and trying to set a very good example in this regard. I am no longer spending my entire weekends with her so I can reconnect with friends and am encouraging her to foster friendships that she tends to neglect, despite having friends who do care about her (she has a tendency not to believe this, however). Knowing that I will not be on a rollercoaster all weekend (last and this one coming up) actually fills me with relief and happiness; I've communicated that as we improve our relationship, I will not feel so protective of my time but until we establish a more stable relationship, this is what I need to do to feel healthy. She is open to the idea that ours has become a codependent one, so we are both reading a book on that and hopefully we can gain some skills on setting healthy boundaries from that resource as well.
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HardTruth
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« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2020, 10:25:52 PM »

It's interesting that she's a quiet BPD and so internalizes her symptoms, and yet the effect that she has on the outside - on you - is very pronounced. 

I think of myself, and how I've internalized a lot of negative emotions, which resulted in withdrawal or negative self talk (luckily no self-harm physically!), and have instinctively always made efforts not to bother other people.  If I sense that I'm irritating or angering someone, my habit is to evaluate my actions and adapt; I'm such a co-dependent!

But in her own way, she seems very self-oriented.  Ie, if allowed, she will spend hours in discussions trying to gain reassurance from you.  It sounds like she's made it difficult for you to have social relationships outside of your relationship with her; when you spend time or reach out to others, does she withdraw or give you the silent treatment?

How is she around her kids and her friends?  Does she seem to strike up the same kind of relationship dynamic, or is it different?  Just curious.   

For someone who internalizes her struggles, it seems that there is a passive aggressive way that she draws your energy and attention towards her.  If I'm understanding what you wrote correctly?  I just think that's interesting.  I'd never heard of a quiet BPD before, so have just a very limited understanding.
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pedal9

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« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2020, 05:14:39 PM »

Thanks, HardTruth.

She has a hard time when I make plans apart from her. It's been an ongoing process to get to a place where I don't feel guilty when I just want to hang with my friends or spend some time alone (I'm more of an introvert and work with patients and people all day long, so sometimes just not having to engage with anyone is very restorative). She does withdraw and gets very cold and short—basically, she pushes me away, and while she withdraws convinces herself that something must be wrong with our relationship or don't love her enough, etc. Then the pattern is for her to realize that she is causing the very thing she doesn't want (by pushing me away) and gets very hard on herself for doing so/feeling like a failure, etc. She does talk to me about her extreme self-doubt, bad self-talk, etc., and has been working diligently on changing those habits for the past year. I guess I thought that might be enough to steady our relationship but it is just one piece of the puzzle.

Similar to not being able to consistently trust that I care about her and am not leaving, she has recently recognized that she has always had difficulty trusting that her friends truly care about her.  As such, there have been dramatic friendship break-ups over time, and now has many superficial friends but only one long-term friendship that has stood the test of time. Others come and go. As a couple we have a few other couples that we spend time with as a group. When we are in those groups, she is able to "keep it together" almost invariably and is quite pleasant so, in a way, it's frustrating and isolating that none of our mutual friends has any idea what is actually going on between us. She is not as good at keeping it together in front of her kids and when conflict arises, she is so focused on me it is as though she doesn't even remember they're with us, or think they notice what is happening (they do). I am the one to redirect the situation. I worry for them.

 
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